A cool-headed approachThe ruling Saenuri Party discussed the controversial deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (Thaad) system on the Korean Peninsula at a general meeting of its lawmakers. The meeting to discuss a U.S. anti-ballistic missile shield designed to shoot down the incoming missiles closer to the point of origin than we currently can translates into a full declaration that we must decide on the issue. Most of the ruling party legislators at the meeting stressed the need to introduce the Thaad system to defend our country against North Korean missile attacks.
But we wonder if the lawmakers used an appropriate venue for the debate. As the anti-ballistic missile shield involves extremely professional military issues, lawmakers with no expertise can hardly reach a conclusion. Rep. Yoon Sang-hyun, one of three special advisers to the president for political affairs, said it was not desirable for them to deal with such issues. However, floor leader Yoo Seong-min had a different idea. “People tend to think diplomatic and military issues should not be dealt with at a general meeting of political parties. But we must discuss it because the Thaad issue directly involves the survival of our nation,” he said.
If the ruling party reaches a conclusion in favor of deployment at the meeting, it could help the government cope with China’s pressure against deployment. But resorting to debates at general meetings could produce many unwanted side-effects. For instance, if the opposition holds a general meeting of its own and comes up with a solid vote against the deployment, it could trigger national division. Leftist civic groups will obviously be tempted to join a crusade against the Thaad deployment, leading to a further schism in our society.
The Thaad system is basically a military issue. The Ministry of National Defense’s position is that it will make a decision on its own after taking into account military feasibility and national interests if Uncle Sam officially requests consultations on the deployment of the missile shield. We welcome the Defense Ministry’s direction as it made clear two pivotal standards: efficacy and security interests.
The Thaad deployment is an issue for the executive branch, not the legislature. If the government needs a final decision on the issue, the Ministry of National Defense can thoroughly review it through full-fledged working-level discussions followed by a final decision by a consultative body among the party, government and the Blue House. What we need now is a cool-headed approach to matters involving our national sovereignty and safety.
JoongAng Ilbo, April 2, Page 30